A jury decided Thursday that a man convicted of killing nine people in the so-called Baseline Killer case is eligible for the death penalty, although they won't decide whether to give him that sentence for at least another six days.
The jurors found that there are five factors that make Mark Goudeau, 47, eligible for the death penalty, including that eight of the murders were especially cruel.
Goudeau's defense attorneys must now present the jurors with mitigating factors arguing that Goudeau deserves mercy and should get a life sentence. They will present their arguments at a hearing Wednesday, then the jury will decide whether to sentence Goudeau to death or life.
The same jurors on Monday found Goudeau guilty of nine counts of murder and 58 other charges, including kidnapping and rape. Goudeau already is serving a 438-year sentence for the 2005 rape of a woman while pointing a gun at her sister's pregnant belly in a Phoenix park.
Even though there already was no chance that Goudeau would be set free, prosecutors pursued the murder charges against him in an effort to get him sentenced to death.
After Goudeau's conviction Monday, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said "a terrible scourge on our community has now been held accountable for his crimes."
"It is now the charge of the criminal justice system to see that the sentences for death are carried out as expeditiously as possible," he said.
Goudeau's defense attorneys have declined to say what mitigating factors there are in the case, or whether Goudeau will address jurors to plead for mercy. Mitigating factors can include a history of child abuse, mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder from war or other events.
Goudeau was not in court Thursday even though he had attended all of his four-month trial. The last day he was in court was Tuesday, when court officials say he had an outburst and yelled that he wasn't coming to future proceedings because of the corrupt justice system.
In arguing Wednesday that Goudeau's victims died in an especially cruel way, prosecutor Patricia Stevens showed candid photos of the victims, mostly smiling, as she described the unimaginable terror and anguish they must have experienced before they were shot dead.
"He always took his time," she said. "He enjoyed the power and dominion he exercised over these victims. He enjoyed the threats of force, the threats of death."
She said the eight female victims all started by succumbing to Goudeau's instructions to remove their clothes, but that each of them at some point refused to cooperate with his sexual demands, and that's when he killed them.
She said each of the women was forced to agonize over whether they would be raped or killed in the moments before they were shot, and that two of them were forced to watch Goudeau kill another person before he turned the gun on them, prolonging and intensifying their own terror.
The jury agreed with Stevens in eight of the cases, finding that the murder of Kristin Nicole Gibbons, a 26-year-old prostitute, was the only one that was not especially cruel. They did not explain their decision.
Among the victims that the jury found died in an especially cruel manner was Liliana Sanchez, a 20-year-old who had just finished her first day at work at a fast-food restaurant in east Phoenix on the night of March 15, 2006. She was going to get a ride home from her new co-worker, 23-year-old Chao Chou, when prosecutors say Goudeau approached them with a gun and forced them to drive to an alley.
Stevens said that Goudeau shot Chou in the head, shoved his body out of the car and then forced Sanchez to drive a mile away behind another fast-food restaurant, where he killed her after she refused some of his commands. Her body was found in the reclined passenger seat of the car, her shirt pulled up and belt unbuckled.
Stevens argued that Sanchez's terror was prolonged and intensified by watching Chou's murder before she was killed.
Goudeau was the last of three suspects to go on trial for a rash of killings and attacks that terrorized the Phoenix area for more than a year.
Dale Hausner and Samuel Dieteman were arrested in the so-called Serial Shooter case in August 2006. Hausner was convicted in March 2009 of killing six people and attacking 19 others in dozens of random nighttime shootings and was given six death sentences. Dieteman testified against Hausner and was sentenced to life in prison.
The two serial killer cases had Phoenix-area residents on edge at the height of both sprees in the summer of 2006. Women felt particularly vulnerable because the Baseline Killer targeted women, while the Serial Shooter case made most everyone nervous because the attacks happened at random and targeted pedestrians and bicyclists at night.
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